February 8, 2012

What the heck is Pinterest, and how do businesses benefit?

by Jaimie Siegle | Advertising Systems Inc.

If you haven’t yet heard of Pinterest, the website that’s become the new time consuming network for women and men everywhere, it may be time to evaluate how it can benefit your business.

The California-based company, which was one of Time Magazine’s 50 Best Websites of 2011, describes itself as a “virtual pinboard.” Basically, it’s a way for people to socially and visually bookmark their interests and desires. From clothing to cooking recipes and pets to travel destinations, people can pin anything; and so can companies and businesses – as long as they have products that can be described in rich photos and shared easily with other Pinterest users.

“Unique visitors to the site grew 400% from September to December 2011, and just last week one study showed that Pinterest drives more visitors to third-party websites than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined,” wrote Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore in a special report to CNN.

Pinterest registered about 7 million users in December and drove more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined, according to AllTwitter. The website has also rolled out a Facebook Timeline App, which will allow users to post what they’re “pinning” directly to their profiles. But what does all this mean for businesses?

Well, if you sell a product or service that can be portrayed in visually appealing photos, it’s time to get them online and organized into “boards” for people to see and comment on. In a Feb. 7 article by Jason Falls of, “retail deal site has seen a 446 percent increase in web traffic from Pinterest and sales resulting from those visits have increased five-fold” in the last six months.

The social bookmarking site is also a way to gauge market interests and gain customers who are passionate about your product. Falls suggests, however, that Pinterest boards by businesses shouldn’t just be advertisements; they should also contribute to the community. But don’t worry, it’s not hard to: You might just become addicted to “pinning” your interests, too.

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